Jayson Tatum makes a bold prediction about his Celtics and the 2019 NBA Finals
Neither trade rumors nor a bumpy season have shaken Tatum's confidence in the Celtics' ability to win a title
The Boston Celtics have had an inconsistent season thus far, but the team's trials and tribulations haven't shaken the confidence of Jayson Tatum. Heading out of the All-Star break, the Celtics sit at fourth in the East with a 37-21 record, but the second-year forward boldly predicts his Celtics will be the last team standing come June.
"We're going to win the Finals this year," Tatum said after winning the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge on Saturday night, via NBA on ESPN. "February 16, Jayson Tatum said we're going to win the Finals this year."
The Celtics -- and Tatum specifically -- have been the subject of persistent trade rumors involving the New Orleans Pelicans and their All-Star center Anthony Davis, but Tatum has taken everything in stride.
"It didn't really bother me," Tatum said of being mentioned in trade talks. "I wasn't really fazed by it. A lot of it was rumors, I don't know if it was true or not, but my job is just to play basketball. I didn't get fazed by anything I saw on TV."
Clearly, the rumors didn't shake Tatum's confidence in the only franchise that he has known during his brief NBA career to this point, and his claim that the Celtics, back in action on Thursday against the first-place Bucks (8 p.m. ET -- watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension), will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June shouldn't come as a surprise, as he said something similar prior to the season's start, when he said that the Celtics could beat any team in the league in a 7-game series -- including the Golden State Warriors.
"Obviously they're the defending champs," Tatum said of Golden State at the Celtics' media day in September, via Jay King of The Athletic. "Everybody respects them, we respect them. But we believe in ourselves ... We definitely feel like we can compete and beat anybody in a 7-game series."
Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving also agreed at the time.
"Yes," Irving replied when asked if the Celtics could topple the defending champions, via ESPN. "Because of who we have, and what we're establishing here, not just for this season, but for hopefully for the next few years, something that's pretty special.
"I've played against Golden State in three straight Finals (2015-17) -- two that I was able to participate in -- and seeing them evolve, with the talent they have, and then adding DeMarcus Cousins [this offseason], it's like 'OK, the whole league is on notice.'
"But there's one factor that they're aware of, and I'm aware of, and that's that I've seen them up close. I've played them so many times. We've gone in a 7-game series [when he was in Cleveland], so I know what it takes ... Now, how do I communicate to our guys that this is the top-tier team, and we have to grow immensely in the next six months to beat them consistently? Not just one game, not just two, but in a 7-game series, because they're so dang great. They're a powerhouse."
As a Celtics fan or front-office executive, you have to like Tatum's confidence, as there is certainly enough talent on the team for them to make a legitimate run at a ring. However, chemistry has been an issue for the team up to this point, and that is something that they're going to have to figure out over the remaining regular-season slate if they want to be at their best come playoff time.
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